With a Week 7 win in Pittsburgh, the Patriots also won over the last of the Power Rankings experts, earning unanimous recognition as the No. 1 team in the league -- well, at least for now. If any of them were doubtful, the fact that this is the only team with six wins leaned hard in the Patriots favor.
No one is quibbling or waffling about the offense. Tom Brady and crew are all getting some well-deserved love, and if there's anything the experts seem annoyed at, it's the sheer inevitability of yet another season with New England cemented in as a top contender. Manish Mehta begins his comments with a "Ho-hum. Tom Brady wins again" and Vinnie Iyer sums up the coldest of takes like this:
Gronk is gronking, Tom Brady is GOATing and Bill Belichick is geniusing. What a predictably boring dominant team they have in New England.
The only thing these experts can even point to for a potential wake-up, shake-up, would be a devastating breach in the Patriots bend-but-don't-break defense. A couple hints of concern are thrown out there, but no one seems ready to waste a prediction that it actually might happen. For fans however, it's enough to bask in the view from the top while it lasts. Never gets old.
Around the AFC East:
New England (6-1) at Buffalo (4-3)
NY Jets (2-5) at Cleveland (0-7)
Miami (3-4) - Bye
Oakland (5-2) at Tampa Bay (3-3)
Denver (5-2) vs. San Diego (3-4)
Houston (4-3) vs. Detroit (4-3)
Kansas City (4-2) at Indianapolis (3-4)
Cincinnati (3-4) vs. Washington (4-3)
1st - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): It’s a little troubling that the defense allowed Landry Jones to look so good. But there’s no other logical pick for the top spot. The gap between New England and everyone else is still wide.
1st - Mark Maske (Washington Post): Tom Brady’s passing production in his three games since returning from his suspension would translate to these numbers over a full 16-game season: 5,355 yards, 43 TDs, no interceptions. So yes, he’s playing well.
1st - Chris Burke (SI): The Patriots’ defense is thriving on its bend-but-don’t-break mentality. (Different from Bill Belichick’s break-at-all-costs approach to the NFL’s sideline tablets.) New England has allowed an average of 23 yards per point scored by the opposition this year, highest in the league—meaning that teams are moving the ball on the AFC East leaders but not finding the end zone.
1st - Lorenzo Reyes (USA Today): Unsung heroes of hot start are in backfield, where LeGarrette Blount and James White have combined for 11 TDs and nearly 1,000 yards.
1st - Experts (ESPN): Tom Brady is completing 75.2 percent of his passes this season and has yet to throw an interception. When targeting his tight ends, he's completing 82 percent of his passes. New England travels to Buffalo for a Week 8 divisional grudge match. The Bills shut out the Patriots earlier this season, but Brady wasn't under center for that game and Rob Gronkowski wasn't 100 percent.
1st - Manish Mehta (NY Daily News): Ho-hum. Tom Brady wins again. Bill Belichick doesn't lose to the same team twice in the same season. The Evil Empire will be looking to exact revenge from their Week 4 to Sexy Rexy's Bills. LeSean McCoy won't be fully healthy, which will not help matters for Buffalo.
1st - Elliot Harrison (NFL.com): It wasn't the cakewalk the pundits (though not this pundit) predicted, but it was a road win for the Patriots, who are 3-0 since Tom Brady returned from suspension. That's why they are ahead of the Vikings and Cowboys. New England continues to impress on offense, even if all the numbers didn't jump off the page Sunday. The key figure: 7 of 12 on third-down conversions (58 percent). Also worth mentioning are the second-half adjustments from Bill Belichick and staff. The vaunted tight ends were barely involved in the first half at Heinz. Gronk rocked the place in the second half, cruising down the seam for a 36-yard touchdown in the third quarter, and a 37-yard catch-and-run in the fourth. Gronk like candy.
1st - Jenny Vrentas (The MMQB): Not entirely convinced about this Patriots defense, but the bend-don’t-break persona held up for another week.
1st - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): They are back at the top, and there's no reason to think they won't stay there. Tom Brady has been lighting it up since he's been back.
1st - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): Gronk is gronking, Tom Brady is GOATing and Bill Belichick is geniusing. What a predictably boring dominant team they have in New England. This week: at Bills, Sunday.
1st - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): They may be here for a while, especially if they can avenge their only loss of the season to date.
1st - Cameron DaSilva (Fox Sports): The Patriots made their inevitable jump to No. 1 after their fifth win of the season, topping the Steelers on the road. So long as Tom Brady is healthy and Rob Gronkowski is catching passes from him, the Patriots are going to remain extremely consistent. At this point in the season, there isn’t a team that is more likely to reach the Super Bowl than New England.
1st - Paul Chartier (WEEI): Third down defense is about the only issue this team has. Despite some struggles on the defensive side of the ball, New England still ranks fourth in the league in allowing only 15.3 points per game. LeGarrette Blount is having the best year of his career. Rob Gronkowski finally is healthy and now is reeling in 100 yards per game. Most importantly, Tom Brady has eight TDs and no picks.
1st - Adam Stites (SB Nation): With Tom Brady at the helm, the Patriots have three easy wins by double-digit margins and look deserving of the No. 1 spot.
1st - Luke Miller (Metro): The Vikings’ distress is New England’s opportunity, and the defending champions reclaim the top spot after an impressive road victory (Ben Roethlisberger or no) in Pittsburgh. The Patriots are 3-0 on the road and will look to revenge the lone blemish on their record next week in Buffalo.
1st - AP Pro32.